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Reporting glitch leaves Arizona without federal health data

January 19, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — A technical error has caused Arizona to be without a federal public health surveillance tool used to track deaths caused by diseases, state health officials said.

The state has not received death-surveillance reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since October when Arizona switch to a new database for birth and death records, The Arizona Republic reported .

Under the state’s new Database Application for Vital Events, the state’s regular reports on death data to the CDC were rejected because they included unwanted files, officials said. As a result, the CDC reports back to the state stopped.

In an email sent earlier this month to Maricopa County officials, the county Department of Public Health said it did not have access to the timely information that includes data on deaths from the flu, opioid overdoses, diabetes and cancer.

The department declined the newspaper’s requests for comment and referred questions to county spokesman Fields Moseley.

“Maricopa County Public Health has not been able to track real-time cause of death information since the rollout of the new DAVE records system,” Moseley said. “In the previous system we received nightly files which allowed us to review and identify potentially unreported infectious diseases resulting in death and to monitor death reports for potential unidentified public health threats.”

The health data glitch does not affect medical care at hospitals, doctors’ offices or clinics, Arizona Department of Health Services officials said.

“It’s not information for medical care or a death certificate issue,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state agency. The CDC “is getting a couple of Arizona-specific reports that they don’t need, and we are trying to remove them.”

The state agency is working with the CDC and expects the issue to be fixed by February, officials said.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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